Growing feet

The following tips will help any concerned parent make the right choices about family footcare and adhering to them will be a real investment for your child’s future.
Foot Care for Your Baby:

A baby’s foot is not simply a smaller version of an adult’s. At birth the 26 bones that will eventually make up the adult foot are mostly cartilage making them pliable and therefore susceptible to damage. To allow your baby’s feet to develop naturally without being distorted, always:

  • Keep bedclothes loose fitting and light so the feet are not restricted.
  • Encourage your baby to exercise its feet by kicking and similar actions. This will help develop the foot muscles.

Foot Care for Your Toddler and Young Child:

  • Don’t force a child into walking. They will start when ready, which can be anytime between 10 and 18 months.
  • Encourage your child to walk barefoot indoors as this allows the foot to develop and strengthen.
  • Once walking is established, children are ready for their first shoes. Always ensure that shoes are purchased in a reputable shoe shop, where children’s feet are measured and the fit of the shoes is checked by trained Shoe Fitters.
  • Inspect your child’s feet regularly, at least every bath time, as children often can’t feel any damage being done. Look for abnormalities such as cuts, breaks in the skin and any unusual changes in colour or temperature.

Do’s and don’ts for new parents

DO..

  • wait until your child is on its feet and attempting the first tottering steps before considering buying shoes. Then go to a shop with trained staff who will measure your child’s feet for length and width.
  • choose shoes that gives stability and protection to feet, which are still soft and vulnerable at this young age. An ideal shoe should be soft and flexible, with breathing leather uppers and a fully adjustable fastening for a snug fit.
  • choose a shop that offers shoes in width fittings and half sizes and that has trained staff who can expertly fit them. Less than a third of children are “average” fitting so foot measurement and correct fitting are vital to a pair of feet.
  • take your child back to the shop for a fitting check after about six to eight weeks. Feet grow, on average, two full sizes (18mm) a year until four or five years of age when growth starts to slow down. As this growth is intermittent, regular checks are essential and a good shoe shop will offer these free.

DON’T..

  • put young children in socks or babygros that are too small for their feet. This could cause their toes to curl, which can result in permanent damage to the growing bones.
  • buy synthetic socks or shoes as they won’t allow your child’s feet to breathe properly and this could lead to conditions such as athlete’s foot. What’s more, synthetic materials will only stretch so far, and the resulting pressure could again damage a child’s growing foot.